Homecoming

Sometimes letting someone else have their moment makes you feel better than having that moment yourself. Kindness has its own reward – it’s how it makes you feel.

Homecoming, posted with vodpod

 

A Songwriting Wunderkind

Diane Warren

A prolific songwriter with six Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe, and Songwriter of the Year awards, Diane Warren has created a foundation that supports music programs in financially challenged schools.

Many young people feel the same way that Diane Warren did as a girl—misunderstood and somehow different from everyone around her. Growing up in California, she wanted to rebel against her parents and everything else in her world. She ran away from home as a teenager, and only came back because she missed her cat!

The truth was that Diane was different. She had a strong creative spark, and a great way with words. And she found comfort in writing songs that expressed her feelings.

While her mother thought Diane was a dreamer who should focus on getting a job as a secretary, her father encouraged her hopes of becoming a songwriter. With that encouragement and a strong will to follow her own direction in life, Diane began the tough task of trying to sell her songs.

Her determination and talent paid off with her first hit song in the 1980s—“Solitaire,” performed by Laura Branigan. Other hits quickly followed—pop hits, rock hits, country hits—performed by some of the biggest names in music, including Celine Dion, Trisha Yearwood, Toni Braxton, and LeAnn Rimes.

Warren’s career soared to new heights when her songs began to appear in hit films, resulting in six Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe award for “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” performed by Cher in the movie Burlesque. She now has a star on the celebrated Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been named Songwriter of the Year six times, among a host of other honors and awards.

But Diane Warren did not forget what it felt like to be that lonely girl with a love for music. She has used her fame and fortune to start a foundation that supports music programs in financially challenged schools, and she helps sponsor contests for emerging songwriters.

Recalling how her father was the one person to encourage her love of music, she wrote the hit song “Because You Loved Me” as a tribute to his support.

In 1993, the struggling Montreal Canadiens adopted one of Diane Warren’s songs, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” as their unofficial anthem, and went on to win the Stanley Cup that year. Just like Warren herself, they demonstrated the power of determination and self-belief.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

A Classical Music Rock Star

Gustavo Dudamel

By the time he was thirty years old, world-famous conductor Gustavo Dudamel had been called “the lightning conductor” who could turn a solid old symphony into “molten lava.” Today, part of his long term plan is to recreate the youth orchestra program for street youth that has been so successful in his native Venezuela. 

When it comes to classical music, Gustavo Dudamel is a total rock star. At age thirty, he was (by far) the youngest conductor of a major orchestra anywhere in the world. With his wild hair, all-consuming passion, and lively sense of humor, he is also one of the most popular.

Gustavo was a musical genius as a child, and began winning international conducting prizes when he was barely out of high school. But what has always been extraordinary about Gustavo Dudamel is not only his talent, but the way he has chosen to use that gift to improve the world.

As of this writing, as well as being in his twelfth year as music director of the Venezuelan Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, Dudamel is also in his second season as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. With his global reputation, he could have chosen to work with any orchestra in the world, but he chose the Los Angeles Philharmonic: and he did it for a very specific reason.

Dudamel, who came from a musical family in Venezuela, had his talent recognized and supported by “El Sistema” (The System)—a revolutionary music-training program in his home country that introduces poor kids, some of them street kids, to the discipline and self-esteem of great musicianship. Recognizing how The System changed his life, Dudamel decided to introduce the program to the United States, and the hard streets of Los Angeles were a perfect place to start. So, as part of his contract with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel insisted on being given the money and time to start a youth orchestra.

The Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles gives poor and street youth a new focus in their lives and a new sense of accomplishment as they play to sold-out audiences at venues like the famous Hollywood Bowl. As well, Dudamel’s vision of spreading the idea across the U.S. is beginning to be realized, with new community and city youth orchestras being formed in several American cities.

Dudamel’s long-term dream is to see The System become as popular in other countries as it is in Venezuela, where 600 youth orchestras help a quarter of a million children stay out of trouble, develop self-discipline, and learn to believe in themselves.

Gustavo Dudamel knows firsthand that music can help change the lives of children and youth, and improve the society they live in.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

The Man Who Didn’t Like His Obituary

 

Alfred Nobel

Can you imagine reading your own obituary in the newspaper? What would people say about you? Alfred Nobel got the chance to read his own death notice, and he didn’t like what he saw. 

Alfred Nobel was a very wealthy and successful man. He had become an expert in chemistry and invented three of the most commonly used explosives in the world—dynamite, gelignite (used in mining) and ballistite, which is still used as a rocket propellant today.

With the huge fortune he made from these inventions, Nobel bought an engineering company called Bofors and turned it into an arms manufacturer. He made another enormous fortune designing cannons and guns and selling them around the world.

Then, in 1888, Alfred’s brother died while visiting France. A French newspaper thought it was Alfred who had died and they published an obituary that began like this:

THE MERCHANT OF DEATH IS DEAD

Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday….

Alfred Nobel was shocked. Was this what people thought of him? Was this the legacy he would leave to the world? That’s when he decided to use his vast wealth to make a positive difference.

Nobel set up a foundation with $250 million dollars in funding. Every year the foundation would consult the leading experts in the world and hand out prizes to people who had made great contributions to humanity. There would be prizes for sciences, for literature, and for promoting peace.

Today the Nobel Prizes are probably the best-known and most prestigious awards in the world. They have been awarded to great scientists, authors and activists and helped draw attention to many outstanding works and worthy causes.

Nobel set up his foundation in 1895: just in time to influence his own obituary. He died only a year later.

The Nobel Prizes accomplished his wish; they created a very different legacy for him than a reputation as “The Merchant of Death.” He is not remembered as an explosives inventor or arms dealer, but as one of the greatest philanthropists of all time.

He is also a great example of how it is never too late to change your life and help make the world a better place.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

Just Say Hi

Sometimes a little courage is all you need. A small step can be the start of something bigger. Connecting with others can begin with one simple world, “hi!” A smile helps too.

Just Say Hi, posted with vodpod

 

Holding The Light

Have you every wondered if you’re making a difference? If what you are doing is important? These questions have crossed my mind over the years. I’ve tried to be a good father, husband, brother, son and friend but I know I make mistakes. I’m definitely not perfect. This wonderful short video puts things into perspective. It shows how we can make a difference with the simplest things we do. Being a good example, most of the time, might be be the biggest impact we have in life. It’s enough.

 

The Man of the Sea

Jacques Cousteau

Famous for his award-winning underwater films, television shows, and books that gave the world a view of life under the ocean, ecologist Jacques Cousteau was also a talented inventor and dedicated environmental activist.

Naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author, researcher . . . you could go on for pages about all of the things Jacques Cousteau did with his remarkable life!

Many people outside France don’t know that Costeau was a war hero; he led daring commando operations inside occupied France during World War II. And many may not know that he helped invent the modern aqualung—the SCUBA system that’s used around the world.

Most people remember Jacques Cousteau for his amazing films, television shows, and books about the ocean. On board his ship Calypso, Cousteau and his crew traveled the world to film their documentaries about the life that teems beneath the surface of the water.

In the 1950s and 60s, Cousteau’s films marked the first time the majority of people had ever seen footage of undersea life in its natural state. And it was the first time that the general public heard about the dangers of pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction, and other threats to the natural world.

Jacques Cousteau is credited with being one of the first popular ecologists, inspiring a whole generation of young people to be more aware of their environment.

His long career (Cousteau lived to age eighty-seven) contained many other amazing achievements:

  • The first underwater archaeology operation using autonomous diving;
  • Discovering how porpoises use natural sonar to guide themselves;
  • Winning the top prize at the world-famous Cannes Film Festival for his documentary The Silent World;
  • Organizing a successful campaign to stop the dumping of nuclear waste in the oceans; and
  • Winning a long list of awards and medals from grateful nations and organizations around the world.

Through more than 120 television documentaries and fifty books, Cousteau helped make science and nature popular topics for everyday people, and he left a legacy that carries on his work. The Cousteau Society he founded to protect the environment now has 300,000 members. As rich and famous as he became, Jacques Cousteau always said he was just a man trying to do his bit to help the world. “It takes generosity to discover the whole through others,” he said. “If you realize you are only a violin, you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert.”

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

Faith in You

One of life’s greatest treasures is someone who believes in you. Especially, when you are having doubts. Having someone who is always in your corner that’s devotion. It is a precious blessing.

Faith In You!, posted with vodpod

 

Very Popular Mayor for Over Thirty Years

Hazel McCallion

Not only has Hazel McCallion been the highly popular mayor of Mississauga for an unheard-of thirty-three years, in the most recent election, she received more than seventy-five percent of the votes. 

A lot of things have changed in Mississauga, Ontario since 1978. It has grown from a collection of small towns and villages to the sixth-largest city in Canada. But one thing has not changed since 1978—Hazel McCallion is still the mayor! After more than three decades, she is one of the longest-serving and most popular politicians Canada has ever known.

Hazel was born to a poor family in rural Quebec that couldn’t afford to send their bright daughter to university. She became a secretary instead, determined to earn her own way. Hazel didn’t mind hard work and was ready to make the best of any challenge.

After being transferred to a job in Toronto, Hazel married a man she’d met at church, and one of their wedding presents changed her life—and Canadian politics—forever. The present was a small plot of land in a little town called Streetsville, not far from Toronto.

At the time that Hazel McCallion and her husband settled in Streetsville, the area was growing rapidly. Together, they started a small newspaper and became involved in local issues. It wasn’t long before McCallion, with her keen mind and tremendous energy, was a real force in local politics. By the time that Streetsville and other towns in the area were put together to form the new city of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion was ready to run for mayor.

She not only won that first election, she has won every single election since—a remarkable string of twelve consecutive elections. McCallion became so popular that she really didn’t need to campaign, and she asked people to donate money to charity rather than to her election fund!

Running the city—in her words—“like a business” has made Mississauga one of the few debt-free cities in Canada. Her effective management and plainspoken style has kept voters loyal to her for over thirty-three years. In the most recent election—in 2010—she received more than three quarters of the votes.

Over the years, McCallion has been called a heroine for her roles in safely evacuating the city after a massive train derailment and explosion in 1979, for talking down an armed man in 2006, and for her relentless work in getting more funding and jobs for her city.

While her strong personality has at times gotten her into trouble and earned her the nickname “Hurricane Hazel,” the Mississauga mayor has also been honored with the Order of Canada and voted as one of the top mayors in the world.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

 

Winning Isn’t The Only Choice

Sometimes winning seems like the only important thing we strive to achieve. Then a moment presents itself to do something different, to make a difference, to reach out to someone else. It’s a choice that has its own rewards.

 

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